Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers
Have I Seen it Before: I’ve always been the watcher of this movie…
Did I Like It: What’s not to like? Yes, Mr. King, we’ve already heard from you.
Before making films, Stanley Kubrick was one of the premiere still photographers in the world. As a filmmaker, he never seemed particularly interested in being a dramatist, and stayed firmly entrenched in his roots. Thus, as a director he ends up being more of an impressionist, if one can be such and still make studio pictures. Thus, the film is a Rorschach test, providing any watcher with exactly what they want to see (see Room 237 (2012)). And thus, it’s only partially an adaptation of the original King novel.
Kubrick, though fills his movie with general dread for as long as he can, and then erupts the film King throughout his work has been very interested in mythology, perhaps at the expense of actual horror. Kubrick just wants us to feel the horror, and for my money, he mostly succeeds, while at the same time giving us far more (although perhaps not as much as some others would have us believe) to chew on.
Much has been made of King’s displeasure with the book, and beyond the reality that Kubrick’s movie is not a faithful adaptation, I just don’t see it. He has—at times—complained about how he believed Jack Torrance as played by Jack Nicholson appears to be a madman from the first frame, making his transformation to axe-wielding maniac more of a tragedy. Aside from a simmering hostility that Nicholson seems to have as part and parcel of his film persona, I just don’t quite see it.
King’s book is a fine book, but not his best. Whereas with the film—with the sheer depth of analysis that can be made about the movie is staggering—is a far more memorable experience.